At the beginning of the school year, media reports appear about what kind of schooling is best. A recent article Why you should send your daughter to an all girls’ school? (Sydney Morning Herald 1 February, 2017) continued to re-hash the same arguments that somehow girls will automatically be disadvantaged in a co-ed school.
The frequently-cited argument; “that girls will be steered away from doing the hard subjects” just doesn’t hold water.
Girls are able to take and do the hard subjects. The girls do not dumb themselves down so as not to disqualify themselves from being somehow attractive to the boys. Not only do they do the hard subjects they frequently top those subjects and enjoy a healthy rivalry with the boys.
Equally, the argument that girls have to fight for the teacher’s attention or compete for leadership opportunities doesn’t apply. Teachers are skilled at including all students and all co-educational schools ensure that the girls have equal opportunities for leadership.
Rather than looking at what is constantly rehashed as reasons for girls’ school, we need to look at what the girls gain from being in a co-educational setting. They gain a community that values them beyond their gender. They experience an environment where mutual respect is part of the everyday and, where contrary to popular mythology, they do not spend their days being rated and dated. As one girl expressed to me, “I used to look at all boys as though they might be a boyfriend, now I have friends who are boys”.
Perhaps in the 50’s and 60’s, prior to the era of equal opportunity, there may have been a reason to promote girls’ schools as a place where girls could be empowered by seeing women in leadership roles. But now young women are articulate, able to make their views known and have a clear voice.
Girls are very well prepared for life beyond the school gate with skills they have acquired by being in a co-educational environment where working with boys and being seen as equals is just part of their expectation and lives.